The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dr. Sheppard leaves his office and returns to Caroline, who insists that Miss Russell must know more about Roger Ackroyd’s death than she’s letting on. The next morning, the newspaper publishes the fictional story about Ralph Paton being arrested. Caroline tells Sheppard she suspected as much, and that it’s Sheppard’s duty to make sure Ralph isn’t convicted. She also tells Sheppard she saw a mysterious man enter Poirot’s home earlier that morning—Caroline guesses that it was a Home Office expert. Poirot then visits Dr. Sheppard, and Caroline tries to raise the subject of his guest. Poirot, who can tell what she’s trying to do, deflects from the topic. He invites Dr. Sheppard for a walk. On the walk, he asks Sheppard to come to his house that evening, and to invite Major Blunt, Flora, Raymond, and Mrs. Ackroyd.
This passage represents one of the only times in the entire novel when Caroline is wrong: first, because she thought Ralph was arrested, and second, because she thinks the mysterious stranger is a “Home Office” expert. (The British Home Office was a government department that handled serious crimes—sort of an early 20th century English version of the FBI.) Neither Sheppard nor his sister can understand what Poirot is up to; indeed, it’s likely that Dr. Sheppard is just as curious about the mysterious stranger’s identity as Caroline, even if he doesn’t ask Poirot about it. Poirot is apparently almost ready to announce the killer’s identity.
Themes
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Dr. Sheppard goes off to the Ackroyd house to invite everyone. Inside, he finds Mrs. Ackroyd, who tells her that Flora has just gotten engaged to Major Blunt. She notes how Flora confessed having stolen money from Roger Ackroyd on the night of the murder. She also mentions that, at one point, she believed that Flora had “some kind of understanding” with Geoffrey Raymond. Bemused, Sheppard invites Mrs. Ackroyd to Poirot’s home.
Flora evidently returns Major Blunt’s feelings for her, suggesting that she agreed to marry Ralph primarily to make her uncle happy, not because she loved Ralph. In this Caroline was correct once again.
Themes
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Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Law vs. Ethics Theme Icon
Gossip and Small Town Life Theme Icon
Dr. Sheppard rejoins Poirot and walks home, where they find Caroline, who tells them that Ursula Bourne has come to the house, demanding to see Poirot. Inside, Poirot greets Ursula, but addresses her as “Ursula Paton.”
The chapter ends on another cliffhanger: somehow, Poirot has deduced that Ursula is already married to Ralph Paton.
Themes
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